According to a new report by the Changing Markets Foundation, ‘damaging’ viscose use remains throughout the fashion industry a year on from the organisation’s initial study.
A central argument by the researchers concerns the manner in which industry use of viscose textile fibre has resulted in significant agricultural and environmental degradation, including notable concerns about water pollution. A number of brands have come under pressure for a lack of transparency in their sourcing of viscose. Some of the brands on the list include Gucci, Prada and Chanel while such retailers as Asda and Lidl are also the focus of concern.
While these leaders have shown great proactiveness in their commitments and engagement, this report also exposes a group of laggards: brands that are still ignoring calls for greater sustainability and transparency from consumers and civil society. This group is made up of an unusual mix of luxury brands, such as Gucci, Prada and Chanel, and low-cost retailers, such as Asda, Lidl and online brands Boohoo and Missguided. This group has failed to respond to any of our letters and there is scant detail about their environmental policies online, with almost nothing on viscose.
In addition to calling on the industry to commit to cleaner and more sustainable production, Changing Markets Foundation has provided a roadmap for fashion companies that works toward key principles for cleaning up manufacturing in the supply chain.
The Roadmap currently has seven notable signatories, namely Inditex, ASOS, Marks & Spencer (M&S), H&M, Tesco, Esprit and C&A. “Next has also communicated that it plans to commit to the Roadmap in the near future. These signatories have reportedly already started engaging with their suppliers, calling on them to commit to closedloop manufacturing by 2023-25 (defined as ensuring emission controls and chemical recovery rates in line with EU Best Available Techniques or ‘BAT’ set out in the EU Reference Document on Polymers)”.
While damaging viscose use remains, it has been observed that, in addition to the list of signatories, other brands are also starting to take action. “In summary, the future of viscose production is looking a bit greener now than it was this time last year. The welcome change in mindsets on the part of both brands and producers, and some good initial commitments, must now translate into detailed implementation plans and capital investments to put the industry on target for transformation.”